Just a year ago, the New York Times ran a story headlined, “Woman Linked to 1955 Emmett Till Murder Tells Historian Her Claims Were False.”
In 1955, Till, a 14-year-old visitor from Chicago, entered a store in a small Mississippi Delta town. Unaware of the racial mores of the Jim Crow South, Till allegedly whistled at 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, who owned the store with her husband Roy.
Four days later, vigilantes kidnapped Till from his uncle’s house, tortured him and shot him. Eventually, Roy Bryant and his half-brother, J.W. Millam, were charged with the murder.
Days after the arrest, Carolyn Bryant told her husband’s attorney that Till had insulted her. Under oath at the trial, however, she upped the charges.
According to the Times, Bryant testified that “Emmett had grabbed her hand, she pulled away, and he followed her behind the counter, clasped her waist, and, using vulgar language, told her that he had been with white women before.” Her testimony was part of the reason two men were acquitted of the murder.
More than sixty years went by before the accuser, now Carolyn Bryant Donham, admitted to historian Timothy B. Tyson that the story she told of Till physically abusing her was “not true.”
In a curious parallel to the Kavanaugh case, Donham told Tyson, as reported by the Times, that “soon after the killing, her husband’s family hid her away, moving her from place to place for days, to keep her from talking to law enforcement.” Like Sen. Diane Feinstein, the Bryant family likely feared that authorities might poke holes in her story.
“The circumstances under which she told the story were coercive,” Dr. Tyson said. As became clear at Thursdays’ hearing, the circumstances under which Christine Blasey Ford told her story were coercive as well.
This Emmett Till story would find fictional form in the classic 1960 novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Strong armed by her abusive father, a young woman named Mayella Ewell accuses black handyman Tom Robinson of rape. Attorney Atticus Finch, staring down an angry mob on the jailhouse steps, heroically defends Robinson. His heroism proves to be in vain. Robinson is eventually shot and killed trying to escape from prison.
For years American liberals saw Atticus Finch as the avatar of their best selves. Today, however, leftists no longer stand on the jailhouse steps. They form the mob in front of it. There they demand the head of some politically convenient victim or another, evidence be damned.
One day their Tom Robinson is Clarence Thomas. The next, the Duke Lacrosse team or George Zimmerman or Officer Darren Wilson of Ferguson or Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Verdict first, trial later. Said Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono of Ford even before the Kavanaugh hearings, “I believe her.” Men, she urged to “shut up and step up.”
The same New York Times that, just a year ago, was appalled by the lack of due process in 1955 Mississippi celebrated Hirono’s “newfound prominence as a leading Democratic voice.”
This all but unmentioned turn of the left towards mob justice will sooner or later produce another incident like that of Emmett Till. Unlike in Till’s case, however, there will be no liberal media left to denounce it.